Various approaches to life cycle assessment (LCA) have been developed and are increasingly being adopted in order to quantify the human footprint on the planet in terms of urban development. Very often these techniques are intended for different constituencies and are therefore less than ideal when approached by others not familiar with their focus. Furthermore the most mature LCA tools have been developed for use in the built environment and are not intended for use elsewhere. Unfortunately, a mass of design and production decisions that impact upon sustainability are made outside of this domain, and are poorly served both in terms of a shared understanding of the concepts and dedicated LCA tools: similar patterns can be found in the professional training provided by tertiary education. A novel approach to overcome this deficit is being pioneered by the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle in Australia, where undergraduate architects, industrial designers, design and technology teachers, facilities managers and construction managers are developing a transdisciplinary understanding of sustainability issues as an integrated part of design through the use of learning contracts. This paper details the resultant holistic, multi-criteria problemsolving course design, and the experiences of staff and students who have previously experienced such an approach, highlighting the beneficial outcomes of developing a transdisciplinary, shared understanding of sustainability in the constructed environment.
International Conference on Whole Life Urban Sustainability and its Assessment. SUE-MoT Conference 2007 (Glasgow, Scotland 27-29 June, 2007) p. 652-665